STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Based on what has already happened, TCU coach Trent Johnson might be asking for a lot going into his second season.
“For us, and me in year two, I’m excited in my own way,” Johnson said. “If we can get healthy and remain healthy, we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team this year.”
So far, that has been as difficult for the Horned Frogs as winning in the Big 12.
Only 12 seconds into Johnson’s third game last November, junior forward Amric Fields sustained a season-ending right knee injury. While Fields is still recovering and not fully back, the Frogs lost big men Devonta Abron and Aaron Durley for this season because of injuries sustained during a four-game trip to Canada in August.
Abron, the 6-foot-8 former Arkansas transfer who averaged 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, tore an Achilles tendon. The 6-10 Durley was expected to make an early impact for the Frogs as an incoming freshman last season before he tore an ACL during a non-contact drill early in preseason practice, and he reinjured his knee this summer.
“I concern myself with the guys on the floor now, and the guys in practice,” Johnson said. “They give me an indication and a chance to be good if we can just stay healthy.”
There will be a lot of new pieces since four senior starters are gone after the Frogs went 11-21. They won only two Big 12 games in their first season in the new league, but there was a shocking home victory over Kansas, their first-ever win over a top-five team.
The only returning starter is junior point guard Kyan Anderson, who led the Frogs in scoring, assists, steals and 3-pointers. Fields was making the transition from being the Mountain West Conference’s top sixth man to a starter when he got hurt last season.
TCU did add one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits, 6-10 center Karviar Shepherd from the Dallas area.
“He’s done his job in terms of being coachable,” Johnson said. “Competing at a high level, and doing all the things that we as coaches and his teammates like in terms of being consistent with his behavior.”
Here are five things to know for TCU, which opens its season Nov. 8 against SMU in the Dallas Mavericks’ home arena:
WAITING ON WASHBURN: The Horned Frogs are still waiting to find out if 6-8 sophomore forward Chris Washburn will get an NCAA waiver to play this season after appearing in all 32 games for UTEP last season. Washburn, from nearby Grand Prairie, switched to TCU partly to be closer to home.
SENIOR SHORTAGE: There are only two returning seniors on the roster, guards Jarvis Ray and Thomas Montigel. Ray played only 10 games last season before a season-ending injury to his left foot. His 62 points matched his total from the previous two seasons when he played in 39 games. Montigel, the son of TCU’s longtime golf coach and former basketball assistant, has appeared in only 25 games his three seasons with only one start.
DOWNRIGHT DEFENSIVE: TCU finished third in the Big 12 last season allowing only 62.2 points a game. The only problem is the Frogs averaged only 55 points a game, including once when they scored only 31 points against Northwestern.
RECRUITING INROADS: When Trent Johnson took the TCU job, he talked about all the good basketball players in the state of Texas. Headed by Shepherd, three of the Frogs’ four new freshmen this season are from Texas. Eleven of the 16 players on the roster are from the Lone Star State, three of them from Fort Worth. ” Are there enough great players to go around? I don’t think so,” Johnson said. “But there are enough good ones to go around.”
CHANGING COLISEUM: This will be TCU’s last season in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum before a planned $45 million renovation of the half-century-old facility. It will be the most significant of several renovations and expansions to the building, including new locker rooms. Among the top DMC highlights are last year’s win over Kansas and a half-court shot in 1986 by Jamie Dixon, now the Pitt coach, to beat Texas and win the Southwest Conference title.